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Music |

Meet the founders: Black Diamond Records

Tuesday 16 May 2017
Words Alice Bell

Black Diamond Records is an independent record label which focuses on developing artists. We catchup with the founders Derek and David to discover more about the company and their future plans!

For readers who are unfamiliar with Black Diamond Records, give us the elevator spiel? Derek: Black Diamond Records is a 360 modern day music company with the mentality of an independent but the global ambitions of a major.  We pride ourselves on developing the next generation of superstar musicians, from grassroots level and overseeing their journey till the point of global success. We understand culture both from a mainstream and youth perspective and our overall aim is to create a catalogue of legendary music, which will hopefully stand the test of time.


What artists do you have on the label?

Derek: Currently, Mullally is signed to the label, however we are in the process of bringing a couple of new and exciting acts to the roster. Stay tuned!


How did the company come about? Why did you feel there was a need for BDR – tell us about that light bulb moment…

David: The company came about and was formed in 2013. Originally starting out as A&R men, we felt that there was a massive gap in the industry in terms of a lack of real artist development focus. We were coming across many raw, talented artists who we felt with guidance, time and care could fully realise their potential. However, we realised that the major labels were not as committed to this process compared to years gone by. Therefore, we decided that this would be the mission for BDR, a home for artists, in which that crucial development period would be afforded to them and act as a springboard for their long term success.


What makes Black Diamond Records different to any other record label?

David: We believe what separates us from the other label records is a) a major focus on artist development b) our ability to cross multiple genres comfortably in terms of working and developing artists from all types of musical backgrounds. Our palette, musically, is very eclectic and that manifests itself by the way of us being able to sign and work with a pop/soul singer-songwriter, but being equally comfortable and competent in signing and developing a rock band or a grime MC.   C) We like to go against the grain and look for artists who many other labels may consider to be unusual or a bit left. We embrace this, as we believe no two legendary artists in the history of the industry were the same. As a label we gravitate to the different and unique, as opposed to following trends.


What were you both doing before launching Black Diamond Records?

Derek: Before launching BDR, I was an A&R consultant working with various smaller music companies and helping out local musicians in my home town, in terms of helping them get gigs, sorting out their booking etc. Before BDR David worked with a talent agency working with Premiership soccer players and then moved on to working for MTV


You’ve recently partnered with Warner Music UK, what does that mean for Black Diamond Records? (have you sold to Warner? What does the partnership entail?)

David: No, we haven’t sold to Warner. This partnership allows us to still have our independent spirit but we are able to use the scale and infrastructure of Warner to help break artists globally. We want to be able to provide our artist the best platform and team to help them reach their full potential and get their music in to the hands of millions of fans worldwide and this is possible with Warner Music


How did this partnership come about?

David: We recently partnered with Atlantic Records UK on the signing of rising star Mullally. We had a conversation with Max Lousada (Chairman of Warner Music UK) about the vision for Black Diamond Music. He understood it from the very beginning of developing exceptional young talent and has given us the freedom to sign the most unique, exciting and creative recording artists, whilst utilising the resources and scale of one of the biggest global major record labels.

How big is your team?

Derek: At the moment its the two of us [David and Derek] who run Black Diamond Music, which includes our management, label and publishing arm – we have also brought in Chris Hunte to help us grow the label operation.


Tell us about the development process – for our musician readers reading this, why is it so important?

David: The development process is more important than ever, in a world where it’s easier and cheaper to make and release music, standing out to a global audience has become much harder. During the development process we feel that this is the time where the artist really get’s to know who they are as an individual, what they want to represent and the message they want to share with their audiences. The biggest acts all went through development before the became massive stars including Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Ed Sheeran and many more. Every artist we bring under Black Diamond we always ask ‘Why should I care? Why should I spend 3/4minutes of my life listening to your song, paying to go see your shows and buying into you as an artist’ A lot of them can’t answer that question yet but when we start helping develop their music, their brand identity, their life show and the message they want to share they are able to answer that question and execute.


We hear horror stories of major labels signing musicians, ‘developing artists’ and then dropping them – what advice would you give to musicians that this has happened to?

David: In this industry, you’re probably gonna hear more no’s than yes’ and that’ why we tell everyone who wants to enter the music industry you have to have thick skin and actually be passionate about music or you will give up on the first roadblock. Just because one label didn’t get right with you, it doesn’t mean another label with a different team can help you become successful. A famous example is Lady Gaga who got dropped by her label but went onto being one of the world’s biggest pop stars.


What advice would you give to musicians looking for a record label or to develop their career in the music industry?

David: We would say the first and most important thing is to understand who you are, or have some idea of who you are as an artist. What do you want your music to do? Do you want to make people dance, laugh, cry? What is your motivation? Once there is some foundation to these questions, make sure you arrange a team around you who truly believe in what you’re trying to achieve and who are on the same wavelength. Make sure your work ethic matches your ambitions. Be your biggest critic and create the best music possible. Create music that is authentic and true to you as an artist, and that can speak to people as, at the end of the day, you are creating music for people. Then start the process of releasing your music and establishing a core and loyal fanbase. Once you bring all these elements together, a record label, if that’s the path you wish to go down as an artist, will FIND YOU!


What advice would you give to people running, or considering setting up independent record labels?

David: Trust your instincts, 9 out of 10 times it will tell you what you should do. If you’re in this industry just to make money, then you will fail quite quickly. If you haven’t got a passion for it, then you should leave now. Have a strong vision and set short term goals that get you closer to that vision, as you will get much more no’s than yes, and having that vision will help you stay on course. Network and try to connect to as many people as possible, you never know how people can help in the future. Don’t just rely on talent when looking for artists – the best artists nowadays are laser focused on their goals and have an incredible work rate.


What’s coming up in the next 6 months that we should look out for?

Derek: We will be signing more artists to the roster who we’re really excited about and building a studio for our acts to record, write and collaborate with each other.


What does the future on Black Diamond Records hold?

David: We want to create an environment for artists to flourish and get the right type of support and tools to hone their craft and be a positive influence in popular culture.